Capitalism - The Cancer that eats everything


The entire store-shopping experience is tightly controlled to fuel endless consumption. Let's start with the free samples being given away sometimes. The word will quickly spread that a certain store is giving out free samples and more people will be coming there. They might be compelled to buy more of the product then, when otherwise they would never have looked at it. I mean, do you think the capitalists would give away stuff just for nothing? No way - actually, it is scientifically proven that free samples are an effective way to increase sales:

This information comes from a massive paper (which I didn't fully read - just lifted the picture really) called An Assessment of When, Where and Under What Conditions In-Store Sampling is Most Effective. Surely, the capitalists must access to that data - they wouldn't leave anything to chance. After all, profit must be made in the end. Another way to accomplish that is the "put candy at the checkout" strategy. It's called "impulse buying" and the way it works is: you're waiting in line and in your field of view is a bunch of various snacks. Eventually a temptation will appear and you will buy one of them even though you didn't really want to. A recent study by the EHI Retail Institute for Wrigley’s German subsidiary found that the checkout zone generated a sales return of €35,000 ($47,000) per square meter – seven times above the average for the entire store. So it is very profitable indeed. And self-checkout kills the profit: - We’ve done a number of studies. It’s billions of dollars since self-checkout started in 1992. The merchandising side has to come back and chase this thing.

The average time spent grocery shopping – not including time spent getting to and from the store – is 41 minutes. That is 41 minutes of shitting in your brain with advertisements (some stores even have these huge screens at checkout - but sound-based ones are worse, since you can't just avoid looking at them). Of course, the ads are not limited to stores themselves - they're all over the place. They put them on billboards, buses, flats, TV channels. It seems all space exists now solely to fill your mind with bullshit. The ads themselves are not just made on someone's whim, of course - it's all carefully calculated. There's this thing called marketing science which focuses on just that - Some quotes:

What combination of marketing inputs (positioning, messages, media advertising expenditures, distribution channels, new products, sales organization, etc.) will maximize long-term sales revenue or profitability?
What combination of positioning, themes, imagery, music, and colors creates the most effective advertising for a company or brand?
How can these design variables be manipulated to maximize market share or profitability?
How can the direct marketing to each of these target segments be optimized?
What are the optimal number and type of salespeople to maximize market share or profitability?
The goal is not to maximize customer satisfaction (no company can afford that), but to optimize customer satisfaction and/or loyalty.

And many, many more. As you can see, every fucking little thingis taken into account. So the next time you see an advertisement, keep in mind it was most likely made according to these quotes. The last one in particular is a gem - it shows that capitalism doesn't give a shit about customer satisfaction. This is also proven by the fact that products are made to break - for example clothes. Of course, since there is a new summer collection coming out in a few months, you don't need your current ones to last, do you?

Video games

One of the biggest victims of capitalism's claws, Video Games turned from an amazing piece of entertainment to a disgusting cash grab. At the height of PC gaming, you used to buy a disk, put it in the drive, install the game and be able to play. These days, you're lucky if there is data on the disk at all - for example, Metal Gear Solid 5 had only a steam installer in its retail release. The switch from physical to digital releases has opened the door to various cancer infecting the venue today. Games are broken at launch - for example the Skyrim Special Edition, which not only did not fix bugs present in the original one, but introduced new ones. When the Internet wasn't a given, the developers didn't really have an opportunity to "fix" a game post-launch, and had to make sure it was actually finished on release. These days, it's common to ship out broken games in hopes of issuing a patch later - but some still stay bugged months after release.

Developers used to release free demos of games, so that you got access to a few levels and were able to decide if you want to shell out the money. These days, you have to rely on "sponsored" reviews, where the reviewers must agree to terms such as Videos will promote positive sentiment about the game. Videos must not show bugs or glitches that may exist. and Persuade viewers to purchase game, catch the attention of casual and core gamers [...]. Written reviews do not avoid the issues - people even get fired for giving a game bad ratings - Eidos threatened to pull ad revenue from Gamespot as a result of his review, and though this kind of thing is relatively common in games journalism, the nascent management team panicked and decided that Gerstmann was unreliable.

Today's gaming caters to the lowest common denominator - as in, the casual gamer. Much to the dismay of true fans, this often results in sequels that shit on what made the series good in the first place. Some examples of this are Ace Attorney, Pokemon, WipeOut, Skyrim, Thief 4, and many others. Though the degree of decline is not always huge or even significant, it is noticeable. For example, WipeOut 2048 by default enables the "Pilot assist" feature, which will help you during hard turns and such. But we've managed to do without it in WipeOut Pure and Pulse, so what has changed? That's an example of a slight issue, barely worth focusing on - but some series, like Pokemon, have been completely ruined. With every new installment, we get more and more bad changes such as mobile Pokemon centers, poison wearing off by itself, more items being given away for free, early overpowered Pokemon, re-catchable legendaries, "rivals" that are actually your friends, Roto-Powers which make it pretty much impossible to lose a fight, reduction in the amount of Pokemon gym leaders have, and I could go on. All of this to earn more profit - as if Pokemon Red and Blue weren't successful enough...

When you are a fan of a series, you don't want to feel like you're missing out on something - and the publishers mercilessly take advantage of this human psychological trait. They create a "regular" edition of a game, and then an "enhanced" or "collector's" edition which would include items like figures, artbooks, or wearables. Though that is exploitative in itself, they are not even beyond false advertising - for example, Fallout 76 was supposed to include a canvas bag, but it was instead nylon:

It does not end here - you'd think an Ultimate Edition would include everything ever - not so. In fact, some of them do not even include the actual game: Add to that predatory DLC and microtransactions, and you end up with a situation where games are created entirely for profit. The latter issue requires more thorough examination. You know how when you play Candy Crush it tries to get you to "buy a life", or "buy a power-up"? That's microtransactions and games are increasingly being made around them. Because once you include them, there is no other option - since the person who buys them will get such a huge advantage, the game must take that into account. So the levels become harder to compensate, which compels people to shell out money for microtransactions. "Just don't buy them!" is not the answer then, as you can see. Multiplayer games make it even worse, since you're directly paying to beat real person, giving more incentive. And this, my friends, is what will doom gaming in the end - we can sort-of deal with the DLC, glitches, fake bags, causalization, "game not included", whatever - as long as the game does not expect you to constantly spend money on it. Otherwise, we're not dealing with entertainment anymore, but digital chains.


Last updated: 16 / 01 / 2019

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